“You CAN’T go THERE by YOURSELF!” was the response I heard over and over to the umpteenth power, announcing that I was going to Bangkok, Thailand. I could understand the concern; I’m a young, petite female, known for my adventurous ways and sometimes because of my curiosity, not the most cautious traveler. But it was too late; I had already made up my mind I was going. I figured I’d been to enough distant lands to make a solo trip. Was Bangkok the wisest first choice? Maybe not, but I writing this, so that should tell you I made it to and from Bangkok safe and sound (to a VERY relieved Mother if I may add).
As I was constantly reminded, Bangkok is known for its prostitution and child sex slave trade. But that was NOT the Bangkok I was looking for nor did I encounter, fortunately. Instead I found a friendly group of people who through hand gesture and smiles, (because of the obvious language barrier), made my stay quite enjoyable.
I arrived pretty late in the evening so I decided staying near the airport would be best for the night. The next morning I made my way into town and checked into a hostel named Sam’s Lodge near Sukumbit 19. I quickly dropped my backpack and headed back out to explore the city. Now I won’t lie, as I walked to the train I did feel a little bit of anxiety and said to myself “holy moly, what in the hell was I thinking coming here by myself?!!!!” I however, shook the feeling abruptly because I refused to fly 18 hours to be a scary cat. I decided to just be a very CAUTIOUS scary cat and made sure my awareness radar stayed on 10!
The transportation in Bangkok is pretty impressive; trains, boats and the infamous Tuk Tuk as seen above. I decided my first stop would be the Grand Palace. I took a motorized boat up the river which seemed more like a city bus with its multiple stops and overcrowded quarters, resembling a can of sardines. I reached my stop and walked over to the Palace. Now learn from my mistake everyone, it was a VERY hot and humid day (97 degrees) so I naturally wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Bad move! I was greeted by guards at the entrance saying I needed to “cover up” my legs because the Grand Palace was a religious institution. So I literally did a 180 degree turn back onto the street and proceeded to rent a wrap from a vendor that resembled a long skirt. My once color coordinated attire now looked like I went into Punky Brewsters closet, but I learned a valuable lesson; I wasn’t in America and should always check the rules regarding women’s dress in other countries. Now in proper attire, back pass the guards I went!
The Grand Palace is beautiful, no REALLY. It is covered with mosaic tiling that resembled colored diamonds and gold. I’ve never seen anything like it. The exquisite detail was unparalleled compared to other monuments I’ve seen. I even went into a temple where I had to remove my shoes to enter (yes they were there when I returned or that would have been a baaaaad day). I left the Palace and rounded out the day seeing Wat Pho, China Town (strange seeing that I was in Bangkok) and the Atun Palace.
One of the reasons I decided to go the Bangkok is because the US Dollar goes FAR there. At the time $1.00 US=$29.33 Baht. Can you say RICH?!! That’s exactly how I felt. If you go to Thailand, it is known for its shopping and more importantly the Chatuchuk Weekend Market which sits on 35 acres of land with 15,000 market stalls. It is possibly the largest outdoor market in the world. I got up early the following day to avoid the scorching temperatures and crowds (over 200k people each weekend). I actually didn’t avoid either as both the Sun and people quickly decided they should meet me there! Needless to say I shopped till I dropped, later wondering how exactly I’d get everything back home. Famished from shopping I grabbed a bite to eat before I went back to the hotel. I found Thai food to be extremely spicy. Living in Southern California, Hispanic spicy foods are prevalent and found Thai food to beat that out by a longshot!
I should mention that I went to Bangkok for the New Year and brought it in with a Times Squaresque like event in the main square. I met a cool couple from Pasadena of all places, and enjoyed the countdown with my new Buddies. The next day I took the long journey home, and made it back, again to a VERY relieved Mother (my Dad was happy I was back too, but you know that men take a more relaxed approach to things). Would I do it again? YES, in a heartbeat I surely would! I hear there is an AWESOME Island nearby by the name of Phuket…